Red Sox suffer their most embarrassing loss of 2021 season

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - JULY 30: Manager Alex Cora #13 of the Boston Red Sox looks on during the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on July 30, 2021 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - JULY 30: Manager Alex Cora #13 of the Boston Red Sox looks on during the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on July 30, 2021 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

The Red Sox showed a lack of effort in a loss to the Rangers

Sloppy. No, that’s not referring to the field conditions at Fenway Park as a tropical storm rampages through New England. The term describes how the Boston Red Sox played on that field long before the rain arrived.

The Red Sox couldn’t seem to do anything right in a cringe-worthy blowout loss to the lowly Texas Rangers at Fenway Park on Saturday. Texas (43-80) owns the second-worst record in the American League yet they’ve beaten Boston in four of their six meetings to clinch the season series.

The Rangers entered the game tied for the fewest road wins in the majors with 14. They had won only once on the road since the All-Star break before last night’s victory improved their second half road record to 2-16.

The typically even-tempered Alex Cora didn’t hold back when expressing his disgust with the team’s effort in the 10-1 loss, according to MassLive’s Christopher Smith.

"“That was embarrassing today,” said Cora. “It’s not acceptable. For a team that is fighting for the playoffs, to show up like that and play like that. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose the game — it’s how you win or lose the game and that’s not acceptable.”"

Boston showed a frustrating lack of discipline in the field by committing a season-high five errors. Surprisingly, the errors only led to two unearned runs but the damage could have been worse.

Eduardo Rodriguez wasn’t pleased with his manager for pulling him after six shutout innings in his last appearance against the Baltimore Orioles. There should be no argument from the lefty about why he was given an early hook this time. E-Rod lasted only 3 2/3 innings, allowing five earned runs on eight hits and a walk.

The low point of his outing came with two outs in the fourth inning when Brock Holt hit a weak grounder back to the mound that Rodriguez failed to field. The ball deflected off the pitcher toward second base where it was scooped up by Kike Hernandez, who threw the ball away to allow a runner to score and Holt to advance all the way to third. An RBI double by Isiah Kiner-Falefa sent Rodriguez to the showers.

The fifth run charged to Rodriguez scored when Hirokazu Sawamura allowed an infield single and Xander Bogaerts made a throwing error that allowed Kiner-Falefa to trot home. Two errors in the inning yet all of the runs were earned. It was determined that those runners would have scored despite the errors due to the double Rodriguez gave up before departing and a wild pitch from Sawamura. That disaster could have been avoided altogether if Rodriguez had made a better effort on a ball hit weakly at him.

Boston’s pitching staff surrendered 10 runs to a team that hadn’t scored in double-digits since July 6. The Rangers are dead last in the majors in runs scored (96), batting average (.200), on-base percentage (.253), slugging (.328) and wRC+ (59) since the All-Star break. Joey Gallo has been wearing pinstripes since the trade deadline and now that he’s gone, most fans would be hard-pressed to name more than a few Rangers hitters who aren’t named Brock Holt.

As poorly as the pitching and defense performed, the offense needs to shoulder a fair share of the blame. Jordan Lyles is one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball this season with a 5.33 ERA that ranks fifth-worst among qualified major league starters. His 5.55 FIP and -0.3 fWAR rank ahead of only teammate Mike Foltynewicz.

A powerhouse Red Sox lineup should have had a field day against a pitcher who doesn’t miss many bats and can’t keep the ball in the park. Instead, they managed only one measly run on five hits.

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The Red Sox had their chances but couldn’t come through. A base hit by Christian Vazquez should have loaded the bases in the second inning but J.D. Martinez didn’t stop at third and ended up getting thrown out at home to end the inning.

Boston’s only run came from an RBI single by Hernandez in the third inning. The chance to build momentum was squandered when Kike was doubled up on a deep fly ball to center off the bat of Rafael Devers that was caught at the wall. Hernandez clearly didn’t realize the ball had been caught until it was too late to retreat back to first. Cora challenged that the ball hit the wall before falling into the outfielder’s glove but the play was upheld after review.

Base running blunders stalled the offense early. Once the pitching staff unraveled in the fourth, it’s as if the lineup simply gave up. Boston only had one more runner make it as far as second base the rest of the game and they never presented much of a threat to score.

Every team is going to have games where their pitchers get roughed up or the lineup can’t string together hits. You can’t win them all. When a loss comes from a lack of effort though, that’s when we have to draw the line. The Red Sox couldn’t stop the worst offense in baseball from scoring and they couldn’t put up any runs against a terrible pitching staff. They made mental mistakes on the field and the base paths.

The Red Sox have lost games by larger deficits this season but when taking into account the quality of the opponent, this has to be the most embarrassing loss of the season.

"“It’s hard to watch,” Cora said. “It’s hard on us. I hate the way we play today. I hate it. That’s the bottom line.”"

The manager summed it up best. This disgraceful display was hard to watch. Cora tried to take accountability but this loss isn’t on him. This one is on the players. They didn’t execute in any aspect of the game and it felt like they waived the white flag after falling behind early.

With Sunday’s game being postponed by the weather, the Red Sox get a day off to clear their heads. Boston’s playoff hopes are beginning to dwindle. If they don’t come back for their next game showing more effort on the field, they don’t deserve to remain in the race.

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